I've seen this movie more than a few times and even own the dvd, but I always end up watching it whenever I find it on television. Co-written and directed by Billy Wilder, Sunset Boulevard is the iconic 1950 film noir starring Gloria Swanson and William Holden. It's so strangely grotesque on so many levels that it's fascinating - I highly recommend it. The cast is perfect - Gloria Swanson as the has-been silent screen star crazed for the attention that Hollywood has left behind. William Holden as a young screen-writer down on his luck - trading favors for room, board and "et ceteras"..... Shot in black & white with cameo appearances by actual silent stars like Buster Keaton, Anna Q. Nilsson, screen legends Erich von Stronheim and Cecil B DeMille, and the gossip columnist Hedda Hopper.
As the story goes, Billy Wilder wondered how the stars of the silent era lived their lives behind the doors of the big old mansions left behind on Sunset & Vine and came up with the idea of Norma Desmond.
Most people would remember Billy Wilder for comedies such as Some Like It Hot (with Marilyn Monroe), Sabrina (with Audrey Hepburn) and The Apartment (Shirley MacLaine & Jack Lemmon); however, the darker side of Wilder brought Double Indemnity, The Lost Weekend and Sunset Blvd. I found it interesting that as a writer who left Germany around 1931, he had to quickly learn English in order to continue with his career as a screenwriter here in America. Thinking, writing AND selling his stories in a new language - within a few years he became highly successful!
Sunset Boulevard was made into a Broadway musical, written by Don Black & Christopher Hampton with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, which opened in 1993 and starred Glenn Close for a while.
And of course, there was Carol Burnett's version.